Smartphone Aches from Shopping On Your Phone All Day?
November is undoubtedly one of the months with the best shopping deals, with 11.11 and Black Friday falling in the same month! Along with COVID hitting us this year, most retailers are shifting their shopping deals online. You may find yourself scrolling through various shopping platforms and websites on your mobile devices for extended hours at a time to find the best deals. This can result in aches from using smartphones. In this article, we will share the top 3 smartphone aches relating to prolonged usage of mobile devices and how you can avoid them.
Poor posture while using phones is so common that the posture has got a name for itself – text neck. When you use your phone, it is usually held comfortably at elbow height so that the arms don’t get tired. However, this results in you having to look downwards at your phone. This causes the neck to be bent downwards and the head to be stooped forward. This results in a strain on your neck having to support the weight of your head without the help of muscles or ligaments which are meant to support your head while in a neutral spinal position. Over time, this poor posture increases the stress on your neck and eventually results in neck pain.
What you can do about it
Be mindful of your posture while using your phone – try holding your phone up higher towards your face. The reduction in the degree that your neck needs to bend to look at your phone will reduce the stress placed on your neck. If your arms get tired, it should be a sign to take a break from using your phone temporarily.
Another common complaint of aches while using mobile phones is thumb pain. Most people hold their phones in one hand and use their thumb to scroll through their phone. Thumb pain can occur due to overusing phones and the repetitive motion of using the thumb to navigate websites and shopping apps, scrolling up and down as well as left and right. The strain on the thumb is further amplified especially with the increasing sizes of phones these days. Thumb pain occurs as these movements are unnatural for the thumb and causes a strain on small muscles, tendons and nerves in the hand. This can eventually result in pain and inflammation of the area.
What can you do about it
If you are browsing websites and apps, make a conscious effort to alternate between your left and right hand or even switching the finger used for scrolling through your phone . You can also consider using a stylus pen instead of your finger to minimise the strain on your fingers. Consider using the voice typing feature for texting or drafting emails on your phone. This will help to minimise the usage of your thumbs and give them a rest.
Thumb and wrist pain are usually interlinked as there are tendons that run through from the wrist to the thumb. A common wrist pain condition relating to smartphone usage is De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis. Also known as texting thumb, this condition affects the tendons at the wrist and base of the thumb. Tendons that run from the wrist to the base of the thumb can get inflamed from holding something in a vertical position for an extended period of time. It becomes worse when you use the same hand that you are holding your phone with to scroll.
What you can do about it
Use your phone with two hands instead of one. Hold your phone with one hand and use the other hand to scroll through your phone.
Change your habits to prevent smartphone aches and injuries
All of the aches relating to mobile phones stem from overuse and inflammation. Consider making an effort to consciously change your smartphone habits to prevent future injuries. Here are some good habits that you can adopt:
- Switch from using your smartphone if possible. When you’re at home, avoid using handheld devices and try using your desktop or laptop instead.
- Give your hands and fingers a rest – apart from alternating between using different hands and fingers. Allocate an amount of time a day where you put your phone down completely to let your body rest and prevent inflammation.
- Use tools to help make your phone usage more ergonomic. Such as phone stands and phone holders, stylus pens, and even inbuilt device features such as voice typing or eye scrolling to give your hands a break.
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